The "Fast 40" Closing List

There are going to be some tough school closing conversations over the next few weeks and months, and a lot of shouting and finger-pointing, but let's leave that for next week.  My question to start things off this weekend is whether there are any relatively easy school closing decisions in the mix -- "slam dunk" schools with ridiculously low enrollments and lots of nearby options?  Surely there have to be a bunch of those.  I'll start things off below.Just to get things started, I propose that we close/consolidate the 20 schools with the smallest student enrollments, and the 20 schools with the lowest utilization rates.

I call this the "Fast 40."

To play the Fast 40, you can take a school off the list, but you have to propose an alternative to take it's place.

Or, if you have a school to nominate, you can do so and then take a school off the underutilized/smallest enrollment list.

Need some inspiration?  Check out this list of "former" Chicago Public Schools from Wikipedia.  Or check out Catalyst's map of most under-utilized schools here (using last year's data).

Complaining about the idea of closing schools in the first place, or the lameness of CPS, the utilization formula or of this exercise, is not allowed on this comment thread unless you (a) give your name and school or (b) nominate a school for closing.

Wildcard:  You can, however, propose re-opening a former CPS school that has unfairly been shuttered (say, Washburne, or Manual, or Loretto).  But we may all laugh at you.

Using this method, I'm sure that by Monday we can send our list to Byrd-Bennett and she will thank us.


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  • I'm not crapshooting on particular schools, and some of the dots don't correspond to the addresses, but the vast number are in neighborhoods where the population has been decimated. There are darn few dots on the soutwest or northwest sides, and basically only 4 north of Division Street.

    So, unless there is going to be mass busing from north to south.......

  • All four AUSL high school turnarounds:


    All grossly underenrolled due to shipping their behavior problems to the rest of us.
    Thank you.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    And I forgot Orr. Perhaps that one should be first on the list.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    The only school on your list run by AUSL is Phillips. Harper and Marshall are run by Office of School Improvement. Fenger has broken off of OSI and I am not sure who is running it, but it is not AUSL. And, if you had your wish, ALL of our kids would be at your precious school. Is that what you are asking for? We actually keep many of our "behavior problems."

  • In reply to judgejury81:

    Judgejury81 is correct. AUSL has Orr and Phillips and OSI has Marshall, Harper and Fenger. I don't want to see any school closed but it would be unfair if they kept these obviously underenrolled schools open while shutting others if they are going to make the decisions strictly on underutilization. I don't look forward to the coming blood bath for anyone involved. I know too many kids who have already had to change schools because of school actions and it is just awful.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Unless I am wrong all of the four schools listed were already saved
    from themselves by canning every adult working in them.
    Seems the magic bullet did not work.Is this how the Board will
    eliminate the shame of failed programs? Will they admit failure?

  • In reply to rbusch:

    The board will never admit failure. That is easy to do given the constant churn at 125 and on actual the board. Nobody is around long enough to accept accountability.

    Technically, Harper, Orr, and Phillips have already been "turned around" twice- don't forget what happened in 1997 to these schools along with King, DuSable, Robeson, and Englewood.

  • In reply to judgejury81:

    Sure, we would be glad to have all your kids. My school welcomes anyone!

  • CPS should not allow any school to operate over capacity. In fact, all schools should be somewhat under capacity.

    Old article, but it still holds true.

  • All these closings and Alderman Michelle Smith in Lincoln Park is not budging from demanding state and federal funds to build a new middle school at the Children's Memorial hospital site when some simple redistributing of future students would do the trick and eventually lead to another great neighborhood school in her ward where families could walk to school. Fiscally responsible, cost effective and environmentally conscious, but she would rather divert funds to Lincoln Park and let struggling schools in poor areas to deteriorate further

  • This .pdf shows the utilization numbers for last year. Of course no data for the charter schools. Very suspicious.$_IPN58_FueCdsXA7dKx$PADVuFJXoRf$ernVUsUz4Aw$6wU9GSUcqtd9hs3TFeZCn0vq69IZViKeqDZhqNLziaXiKG0K_ms4C2keQo54&CONTENTTYPE=application/pdf&CONTENTDISPOSITION=CPS%20Utilization.pdf

  • "district299 Why don't @ChiPubSchools, city hall, or reform grps set up a quick response team to knock down misinformation/tell their side of the story?"

    Last time, "they" got us a teacher strike by telling "their" side of the story. On this blog, with its inflammatory host and flame-throwing anonymous contributors, it's apparently possible to think that divisive rhetoric is exciting and has no serious price to pay; but the downside of CPS telling "their" side of the story is that it reifies an "other" side and the conflict overshadows everything else. Speaking as a teacher who never paid attention to the union until this year, I can say that the greatest single factor cotributing to the strike was the Board's, Brizard's, and the Mayor's amazing ability to make all teachers feel that it was open season on teachers and schools, and that nothing but a drastic statement like a strike could create some calm and make it possible to get work done in schools. And, in general, that was the public perception. I can't imagine CPS trying the us vs. them public relations game again. What could possibly be gained by it? It would simply empower the other side.

    Either Russo prefers to see the whole system in rhetorical flames--which I think is partly true--or this suggestion speaks to a failure to understand the importance of the very medium by which he makes his living--language.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ira Abrams:

    Well said Ira. Accrding to Russo and his hypercapitalist buddies at Crain's Chicago Business, everything, always is the fault of the CTU. Russo does indeed fan the flames of teacher hatred, and then acts hurt when you call him on it.

  • the sun times has a version of the list, also from last year, in case you feel like checking out how your school looks

  • Schools Ring Closing Bell in DC, Tucson, and Chicago - #thisweekined

  • Alex -

    I read your blog/column regularly, and I'm grateful for its contents and discussions.

    Having said that, this one bothered me. It's irresponsible to have a public "fantasy football" -type of deadpool for school closings. More importantly, it trivializes something that is painful and difficult.

    I happened to read this just after the CTU "educational Apartheid" story. Situations as difficult and contentious as fixing Chicago's schools need levelheadedness and reasonable discussion - not trivializing or racially-charged hyperbole.

    Please continue to write as you have in the past - as a part of the solution. This particular effort makes you part of the problem.

  • Table from @ILRaiseYourHand IDs 37 schools at half-empty -- a good place to start?

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